Steelers’ TJ Watt Poised to Equal a Reggie White Sack Record

TJ Watt

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after a forced fumble against the Buffalo Bills.

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt has produced 13, 14.5 and 15 sacks during the last three NFL seasons. According to Stat Muse, if he is able to record at least 13 sacks in 2021, he will join an elite group of only nine pass rushers who have recorded 13 or more sacks four times, a group that includes his brother J.J. Watt, not to mention Pro Football Hall of Famers like Lawrence Taylor and the late Derrick Thomas.

Yet only one other NFL player has ever recorded at least 13 sacks in four consecutive years, that being former Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers great Reggie White, who, per Pro Football Reference—did it twice, once between 1985-88 and again between 1990-93. White (nicknamed “The Minister of Defense”) went on to record a total of 198 sacks during the 15 years he played in the league and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, less than two years after he passed away at the age of 43.

Only Three NFL Players Have More Than Four 13+ Sack Seasons

Should Watt get 13 or more sacks in 2021, that would give him a chance to break White’s record in 2022. It would also put him on course to join an exclusive group of pass rushers who have six or more 13+ sack seasons over the course of their careers, including late Los Angeles Rams/Pittsburgh Steelers/Carolina Panthers great Kevin Greene, who did it six times; and Buffalo Bills legend Bruce Smith, who did it seven times.

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The Steelers Are Poised to Tie an NFL Sack Record in 2021

If Watt gets 13 or more sacks next season, it would also go a long way toward the Pittsburgh Steelers having a chance to tie an NFL record for most consecutive seasons with 50 or more sacks (five), something that has not been achieved by any team since the 1980s. Last year the organization set a new franchise record with its fourth consecutive 50+ sack season. Three teams share the NFL record for most consecutive years with 50+ sacks—the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and Washington Football Team—with all three of those clubs setting the mark between 1983-87.

While the loss of starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree—who departed for Tennessee in free agency—certainly hurts the team’s pass rushing cause (he had eight sacks in 2020), it’s very possible that last year’s second-round pick, Alex Highsmith, may be able to pick up the slack.

Never mind the fact that the Steelers still possess what is widely regarded as the best defensive line unit in the NFL, one that features three of the top linemen in the league in Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu, the latter of whom reversed his decision to return to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency to sign a two-year contract extension with the Steelers, which prompted much rejoicing among his teammates.

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